Why set up an SLA in an IT project?
Definition of an SLA
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a key component for smoothly running an IT project. Put simply, an SLA is a mutual commitment made in writing between a client and their IT development provider.
The purpose of an SLA is to clearly define and lay out the details relating to the agreement between the client and the IT provider. These include:
- Expectations in terms of performance,
- The expected quality level of the product,
- The methods and processes that will be employed,
- The deliverables and timeframes.
What should an SLA contain?
The SLA usually takes the form of an annex to the IT service provision contract already established between the client and the IT development provider.
Its role is to list and detail the obligations and conditions of services provided by the service provider.
The SLA will usually include the following elements:
- Start and end date of the contract ,
- The contract’s conditions of renewal and of termination,
- An obligation to provide and advise the service provider with the required information and material for the successful completion of the project,
- A description of third party relations, if any,
- A list and description of the services and their areas,
- An agenda of planned actions and their assigned timeframes,
- The IT Provider’s response time in the event of malfunctions and/or breakdowns,
- Effective resolution measures for conflicts and complaints,
- Intellectual property and applicable laws,
- Description of the users and/or target group(s) of the service,
- Payment terms of the service provider,
- Reliability and availability rate of the service provider (e.g. on a daily/weekly basis, etc.),
- Description of the system’s security guarantee,
- A clear guide for recovering data and backups.
A well-formulated SLA will possess a range of different functions; these will be outlined in the following section.
What is the SLA for?
An SLA identifies and defines in detail the needs (expectations) of the customer. These should be formalized in the SLA so that they are transparent and well-understood by both parties. An SLA also provides evaluation criteria (such as a definition of quality indicators) for IT service delivery. These indicators must be measurable.
The SLA should also establish a relationship of trust between the provider and the client; it should facilitate strong communication between the two parties and provide a context of understanding in order to simplify complex problems and encourage dialogue in the event of misunderstandings or conflicts between the two.
A key function of an SLA is to identify any unrealistic expectations any one of the two parties may have, and to alter or repudiate them appropriately.
The indicators defined above will be measured regularly and monitored in a report. The frequency of such reporting should also be explicitly mentioned in the SLA.
At Bocasay, a software engineering services company, we can support our customers using two different approaches:
First, we can integrate our client’s project into one of our service centers and we develop it according to our methodologies and our expertise.
Alternatively, we provide IT profiles that can complement the teams of our customers, or who can constitute a new team from scratch. The types of positions and talents we can provide include developers, lead developers, Product Owners, technical and functional architects, UX / UI designers, and more.